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Rupert Wyman 28th Nov 2009 - 18:38

Infuriating and inconsistent? It can only be the England cricket team

South Africa emphatically defeated England by 112 runs in the third one-day international at Newlands to level the five-match series at 1-1. The hosts are worthy 1/2 favourites to go 2-1 up with a win in the fourth match in Port Elizabeth.

The Proteas' performance on Friday was more like their normal self after a rather poor display in the second ODI at Centurion. The victory also ended a run of six ODIs without a win against England.

England on their day are capable of competing with the best sides in the world in one-dayers but infuriatingly these days are few and far between as on the most part the Three Lions are outclassed by their opponents.

Captain Andrew Strauss has spoken of how the England one-day squad is a work in progress but this seems to have been the case for years with no signs of actual improvement and consistent performances.

Consequently I expect England to be outclassed at St George's Park and therefore cannot see any value in backing an England win at 13/8.

England were lucky enough to be able to take advantage of a lacklustre performance by the hosts in the second match but I don't think South Africa will repeat that effort here.

The hosts now have the momentum from their third ODI win and with AB de Villiers in such good nick following his explosive 121, he could easily take the game away from the tourists again. He can be backed at 7/2 to be the top South African run scorer.

One bright spot from the last match for England was the return of Stuart Broad. The all-rounder took four of the six wickets but admittedly his ten overs were expensive as he went for 71. Broad is an 11/4 shot to take the most wickets again for England and this looks a good bet, especially given the fitness concerns regarding the other main strike bowler, James Anderson.

Another good performance at Newlands came from Paul Collingwood as he hit 86 off 82 balls. The Durham man now has scored 393 runs in his last six innings. However, due to 'Colly' batting at four he is only at 9/2 to be England's top batsman.

In this market though the preference would be to back the joint favourite - Kevin Pietersen. The South African-born batsman scored 45 last time out and he could be about to return to his best following his injury problems and at 10/3 he is available at a great price.

If Pietersen can deliver the goods, maybe even a century (11/10 for there to be one in the match), then England will definitely be in with a chance but the match looks like South Africa's to lose unless of course the Three Lions produce one of their rare great ODI performances.



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